Fire damages home

A South San Joaquin County Fire Authority crew cleans up the scene of a Tuesday morning blaze that burned the contents of a debris bin and caught a neighboring house on fire.

A Tracy family escaped from an early-morning fire that severely damaged their home on the 100 block of West 12th Street Tuesday.

D’Angel Serrato said that her husband, Arturo, had just left for his job as a correctional officer at California Health Care Facility in Stockton when, at about 5:20 a.m., she heard a noise from just outside of the house. The home is next to the parking lot behind Accent Carpets, and a debris bin next to the fence between the properties contained old carpeting and foam padding.

“There’s people dumping stuff at all hours of the night, so I thought it was someone dumping something,” she said. When she heard the crackling noise and saw the orange glow outside, she realized it was a fire in or next to the debris bin, and it quickly jumped to the house.

“We ran out of the house with nothing because that fire was literally getting into the house,” she said. “It was so fast. It was within seconds.”

She and her four children – two small children and two adults – were in the home at the time and all got out safely. Arturo Serrato said the fire must have started right after he left. He added that a neighbor’s security camera picked up an image of a man in a gray hoodie walking back toward the debris bin right before the fire started.

“When I got to work 15 minutes after my wife called me and said the garbage can was on fire and the flames were coming into the house,” he said. “Shortly thereafter when I got here, my neighbor across the street had some footage of a guy walking from here and a few minutes after the trash can is on fire. As soon as I left, he must have done whatever he did as soon as he saw me leave.”

The South San Joaquin County Fire Authority reported that it got a report of a structure fire at about 5:30 a.m. and had the blaze under control within a half-hour.

Arturo Serrato said the interior of their home, where the family has lived for 19 years, was severely damaged and will require several months of rebuilding and repair. The garage, including a recently restored classic car, was not damaged.

Tracy Police sent a crime scene investigator to follow up, but police at the scene did not release any details on the incident, pending further investigation.

• Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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